Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Use for Facebook

So it turns out Facebook is useful for something. A friend sends in an email link to the "Lexicon" function, which tracks word frequencies over time. I tried it for "center" vs. "centre" and got an interesting sort of result. The two words show a frequency curve that pretty much exactly matches, with "center" being more frequent than "centre" - except at one random point last November "centre" was briefly more popular. I account for the striking similar curves by chalking instances of "centre" up mostly to typos. But that doesn't explain last November. Sudden influx of Brits onto Facebook that month?

The next one I did was "color" vs. "colour." Nothing to report there: both hold steady, with "colour" significantly less frequent. When I tried with "tire" vs. "tyre," it didn't even return a result.

Sociolinguists must think this is the cat's meow.

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